Re: Swift paint scheme

Douglas Harding

I can accept the film argument for the attached photos of 10370 from the Steamtown Erie Lackawanna collection. These photos were taken in 1913, and lettering on the sides is very hard to decipher. But the white lettering on the ends is clearly visible. But I struggle with that being the explanation for the photo in question of 12624, which has very visible white lettering on the sides and ends. Nor does it explain the 1952 photo from Pittsburgh that shows what appears to be a red car with white lettering coupled to a yellow car with black lettering.


Attached are photos of 6714 in the 1950 red P/L and 6723 in the 1948 P/L. Both these cars appear to share the same underframe design and other features as 12624. The only other cars with this unique underframe in my collection of photos, the photos taken in the early 50s, when different film was used. We know General American was rebuilding and renumbering Swift reefers as a common practice. It appears this was done with cars from this unique class of cars, but still does not explain the P/L scheme on 12624.


Doug  Harding


From: [] On Behalf Of Steve and Barb Hile
Sent: Wednesday, October 30, 2019 10:08 AM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Swift paint scheme


Curiouser and curiouser.  The orthocromatic film theory doesn't explain the example of the dark colored Swift car from Pittsburg with the 1952 Chevy billboard in the background that Doug Harding referred to.


Also, Dave Parker's made a point about "new" or "added" cars entering the 12xxx series for Swift under GAT by the mid 1930's.  Plus the car that we're discussing has those corner straps and a fishbelly underframe, both of which are not at all common among Swift cars.  Perhaps GAT was adding cars from other builders/leaseholders to the Swift fleet as needed.  Yet another challenge.




From: [] On Behalf Of Dennis Storzek
Sent: Wednesday, October 30, 2019 8:20 AM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Swift paint scheme

On Tue, Oct 29, 2019 at 08:30 PM, Steve and Barb Hile wrote:

If you then look around the car corner, into the shadowed side of the car, the items that wrap around the corner, such as the facial and the corner strap are all darker in the shadow side.  So, I will assume that the whole car side is dark and the lettering is white, and not an optical illusion.

There is one argument against this theory; there IS black (or at least dark) lettering on the car side. Look just to the left of the third from the bottom grab that makes the side ladder, and you will see the top line of the dimensional data as light colored lettering. The next couple lines are missing as the lettering morphs to a graytone that matches the side, then the bottom two lines are faintly visible as dark lettering. Same with the reporting marks, the top line (or bar) and SRLX appear light, the number is missing, but then the bottom line appears dark.

I think we are being fooled by a photo taken on orthchromatic film, which typically turns yellows very dark. I am very familiar with photos of Soo Line reefers that appear to have absolutely no lettering other than the $ herald; the black lettering and yellow side are both rendered as the same graytine. Looking at the subject photo, both the side fascia and side sill appear slight;y darker than the sidem which would be consistent with FCR fascia, yellow side, and black underframe.

How to explain the apparent white lettering on the side? It is possible that glossier black paint is reflecting sunlight. This brings to mind a question; was Swift using glass beads in their lettering? The technique was relatively popular during the thirties and forties, to give a surface that would reflect auto headlights at grade crossings, sort of a precursor to Scotchlite.  The beads were typically applied to fresh stencil paste because it stayed sticky long enough to grab them and bond them to the car. Car Builder's Cycs of the era have ads for the glass beads, the trade name escapes me at the moment.

Dennis Storzek

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